Friday, August 24, 2007

Difficult Days

"Mama said there'd be days like this, days like this, days like this, my Mama said"
I stayed up too late last night finishing a book. Woke up early to look presentable for my busy morning. Flew out the door 20 minutes early so Sarah could have a half of a pint of blood work drawn. Dropped off Emily with a dear sweet friend. Headed to the ole "annual exam". Got the van cleaned, polished, and fumigated. Paid for the all day crop that's tomorrow. Then, I received a call from a friend who needed someone to talk to right away. Immediately my 'difficult' day paled immeasurably in comparison.
My heart is hurting for my friend. I want to fix it, take some of their pain away, scream right alongside them at the injustice of it all, shake someone else in the hopes of "knocking some sense" into them. It just hurts and is plain rotten. What I can do is pray without ceasing, love without expectation, try to be a living breathing example of God's love for them. Help them keep their focus on the One who never changes, never disappoints, never fails, is ALWAYS GOOD. It is a very real reminder to me that happiness, apart from God, is fleeting, temporal, fickle. My sights need to be set on Him.
We are such a hard headed people that it is often the difficult times that remind us to turn our eyes the source of all hope and joy. God.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Two Amazing Ladies

Gerda Weismann Klein

Martha Washington

Since returning from my trip to DC to see my dear friend Carrie I've read on two topics that really capture my interest while I was there. My favorite Smithsonian, the National Museum of American History, is closed for renovations until late next year or I would have spent a lot of time there. In its absence I thought I'd enjoy seeing something new. So much has been added since I moved from that area in 1990 - The Korean War Memorial, several statues were added to the Vietnam War Memorial, the FDR memorial, and the WWII memorial, to name a few. My two favorite stops were diametrically different from one another.
One of them is the National Holocaust Memorial Museum. It was heart wrenching. I knew it would be, but experiencing the museum was unforgettable and is very difficult to explain.
Visitors enter the permanent main exhibit by elevator and are confronted with enormous images of concentration camp prisoners right away. Immediately my eyes were welling up and I wondered why Kleenexs weren't issued with our little booklets about a real holocaust victim. It wasn't long though before the overwhelming amount of horrific stories eclipsed my emotion's ability to process it all. I was in a state of shock as I read the sequence of events that led up to this unimaginable attempt at annihilating a whole people group. My biggest impression was that an enormous evil was set loose in Europe through Hitler, but he was by far not the only perpetrator. The blame for this tragedy need to be equally shared with the people who allowed his atrocious policies to come to fruition. From the government who gave him power, to the lackeys who carried out his orders, to the people who turned away and did nothing when they saw the horrible injustices being forced upon innocent people. At so many points it could have been stopped. Satan and his minions were given nearly absolute free reign throughout the German Reich's empire.
When we emerged from the exhibit, three hours after entering, I had such a strong desire to hear more personal stories. Of people who survived and what happened for them after. I wanted to see some glimmer of good that was pulled out of such tragedy. I made a mental note of the some the biographies in their bookstore and used my local library to find some of them. The book "All But My Life" by Gerda Weissmann Klein is one of those stories. Her story, and the way she wrote, had me riveted until I had finished the book. It was a story of courage and hope. Through all she endured she never let those go, even though she was sorely tempted.
The hope that we keep in our hearts and minds has power to keep us strong through even the worst circumstances. The hope I have in Jesus is just that kind of hope and is what gave me encouragement after I left the museum. Jesus has already won the battle. My job is to put on the full armor of God so that I can stand my ground when the day of evil comes. I have my belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:14-17). When I have this armor on I can stand my ground against the rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. My hope in Jesus' work on the cross and the promise of my place in heaven give me the hope to stand strong. I want to be strong enough to make a stand against evil and not be afraid when it happens.
My next favorite place to visit was a nice contrast to the Holocaust Memorial Museum. I got to visit the beloved estate of our First President George Washington. I was fascinated with the house and all the out buildings associated with it. There were little houses for the kitchen, for visiting servants, for laundry, smoking meat, storing food, "the outhouse", and the stable. I have always loved history and especially history that has a real human element to it that I can relate to. My very favorite novels are novels that weave an interesting story through a period of history. It makes history come alive for me. So, I found myself wondering what kind of woman was mistress of this large estate. During the tour they told me that the Washington family had a steady stream of visitors all the time. Every room had the ability to be turned into sleeping quarters. When I tried to imagine what it would be like to entertain visitors constantly and keep a house running in an era without a corner grocery store, electricity, washing machine, etc.... I figured Martha Washington must have been a remarkable woman.
So, when I went to the library I found several books about her and her time. Colonial Virginia in the 1700's was much different than the New England Puritan area of that time. She was not a perfect woman but some things really stood out to me about her life. No matter how full her house was or how much she had to do, every morning after breakfast she had a time in her room to have a quiet time with her Lord. She read the bible and prayed. That is a great example to me. She was known to have a "sweet disposition" that wasn't usually down for long. Despite many losses of loved ones, including all of her own children, she put her trust in God and kept her joyful spirit. She genuinely cared about others and was known for her generosity in spirit and in deed. She loved her husband and was trusting in his judgement and leadership. She had to be super organized and good at managing a household full of servants and slaves. Not that I would wish for slaves to help me, or even servants, but considering that her husband was often away for lengthy periods of time, she must have been a great at handling all that arose. The two children who lived to adulthood were apparently somewhat spoiled but were also absolutely loved. She took a vested interest in them and also in the two grandchildren they volunteered to raise after their father (her son) died at a young age.
I know I'm not doing either of these subjects complete justice, but these are a few of the things I've gleaned from recent readings. I've also managed to avoid the big black hole in our living room this way. I haven't watched TV in more than a week!

Monday, August 20, 2007

First Day